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Luke Crane Resigns From Kickstarter

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Kickstarter's Head of Community (and the creator of The Burning Wheel RPG) has resigned after public criticism with the way he launched a project on the platform last month.

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Kickstarter told Polygon that "After a discussion about what is best for Kickstarter and our team, we came to the mutual decision with Luke Crane for him to leave Kickstarter. We recognize the many years of work Luke has done to help bring creative projects to life at Kickstarter and we are committed to ensure continued support for our team and for our backer and creator community through this moment of change."

Crane used to be involved with the games side of Kickstarter, but more recently has been Head of Community. The current Director of Games Outreach at Kickstarter is Anya Combs, who has been in place for over a year.


The Perfect RPG was an anthology of tabletop RPGs from a variety of creators. Amongst those creators was Dungeon World's Adam Koebel, whose livestream was cancelled in 2020 after including a non-consensual sexual assault scene. Several designers withdrew their support for The Perfect RPG when they only found out after the project was launched that Koebel was involved, and Crane cancelled the project amidst a great deal of criticism, claiming that the creators were harassed into withdrawing their support (a claim which several creators have said is untrue). The list of creators has since been removed and replaced with the words "Redacted to reduce future harassment".

His most recent update on the cancelled project is an apology to those affected.


Hello.

I apologize for such a long silence in the wake of the project launch last month. I’ve been in a lot of conservations, and doing a lot of listening. I waited to post anything because I wanted to be sure to be as thoughtful and considered as possible:

When we began the Perfect RPG project, my only goal was to launch a small collection of micro-games designed by my friends and others whose work I respect in the community. On the day it launched, while the project was falling apart, I did not fully understand what was at stake and what had happened—in the shock of the moment my communications were insensitive and desultory.

So here and now I wish to unequivocally apologize to you, and everyone affected, for the harm I’ve done to the community with this project. I am grateful for your input over the last month, and have done my best to listen with an open heart. I thank you for sharing your opinions and feelings, and know that I have violated the trust you placed in me. I am sincerely, deeply regretful.

In creating the project, I made a series of missteps and miscalculations that added up to a gross oversight on my part and, accordingly, I am fully responsible for the current situation and its effects. So I would like to add some clarification around some of the particular points raised, in the hope that it will help the community as a whole move forward in a productive way: There was no deceit, deception or bad faith in any of my actions around the project. I understand that I should have disclosed the participant list to all contributors beforehand, and I feel terrible that my poor planning placed some creators in a difficult position. Likewise with the unusual order in which contributors were listed—I was seeking to highlight the first creator on the list, who was my primary playtester for this project. In hindsight this was a poor idea that came off as duplicitous, for which I apologize.

The Indie RPG community is close-knit and passionate—it is one of the things I've loved the most about being a member. I have worked for 20 years to build and advocate for this community and expand it past its roots. It is very much my life’s work. To see it hurt through my actions has been devastating. Therefore I am now doing my best to repair the harm I have caused and make restitution to anyone negatively affected by my actions.

I recognize that this statement reflects an as-yet incomplete understanding of the impact of my actions, and only a start to making things right. I am actively looking for other ways to redress the wrong I’ve done. To begin this process, I have reached out to all the contributors of the project and I am in discussions with them, listening to their perspectives and asking them for input. I hope that with their help, and the help of this gaming community, I can demonstrate my continued commitment to building better games for all of us.

Sincerely,

—Luke
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
-snip-
the person you're arguing with is this site's owner; and as such - like it or not - he to some extent can tell you what to do
... within the bounds of his website.

Be Polite is already a 'house rule'.
 

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He emotionally abused a partner and destroyed a friendship over a job. He’s not a war criminal, nor is he owed an audience or a platform to reach said audience.
Going to expand on and add context to this

Emotionally abusing a partner:

Destroying friendships over a job:

A write-up of the whole thing (long):

And to bring the whole thing 'round back to Luke Crane, who also has had his share of bad behaviour prior to this Perfect RPG mess:
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
What i was trying to get at, is that even though this is clearly reprehensible behaviour, i'm not sure it warrants saying "look this guy is participating in that project. Are you still cool to participate?"

Imagine, for a moment, that one of the other creators on the project is themselves a survivor of sexual assault - which is not unlikely if anyone on the project is a woman. But, you, the person behind the project, probably don't know it, because folks don't usually talk about such with business associates.

Do you think folks who have themselves been assaulted shouldn't be given a choice to distance themselves from this dude? This isn't a matter of "hearsay" - what he did was broadcast, and can still be found and reviewed.

This would not make the project creator a judge, jury, or executioner - it allows the others working on the project to judge for themselves, and choose whom they associate with.
 
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darjr

I crit!

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MGibster

Legend
"Games are like sausages, it's better not to see them being made." Otto Von Bismark (citation needed). I usually don't care who is working behind the scenes of what I consume for entertainment and sometimes that even includes the author. I don't really care about Anne Rice or Stephen King's politics, their childhood, or their personal lives. But then I don't want my lack of interest in such things to enable abusive behavior. I certainly can't watch reruns of I Spy or The Cosby Show these days.

I don't consider myself a particularly squeamish individual nor are my players. But I wouldn't dream of dropping a sexual assault scene into any RPG I was running and it boggles my mind that someone would do so in a live stream. And I've run games where my player had their characters do some pretty messed up stuff.

I don't blame people for not wanting to work with Koebel. And I don't blame them for not wanting to work with a guy who tried to hide Koebel's involvement in a project. If I were a project manager I'd probably avoid having him on my team for fear that he would drive other talented people away. And Kickstarter needs to add some internal controls to ensure their employees can't abuse their positions when creating their own Kickstarter projects.
 




Hussar

Legend
After this comment, i went online to read what happened. Particularly, i was curious about why the term abuser was used.
/snip

But i'm not sure that automatically assuming the position of outrage and "burn them at the stake" attirude is the right approach either. People make mistakes. We all do. We need to be able to talk about it. Demonising people isn't the answer, I don't think.
@MGibster said:
I don't consider myself a particularly squeamish individual nor are my players. But I wouldn't dream of dropping a sexual assault scene into any RPG I was running and it boggles my mind that someone would do so in a live stream. And I've run games where my player had their characters do some pretty messed up stuff.

Frankly, that's the point in a nutshell. How stupid do you have to be to create a rape scene scenario for your live stream? I'm sorry, but, the level of stupidity there is just breath taking. And then for people to say, "Oh, well, it's been 12 months, we should forgive him" is also breath takingly stupid as well. No, people like this should be excised from the hobby. I don't want anyone like this anywhere near my hobby. I'm sorry if that's too judgemental, but, good grief. And then for Luke Crane to try to hide the fact that Koebel is part of the project, precisely because of this only enables that sort of thing. "Oh, yeah, he just made a mistake." FFS, that's beyond a "mistake". That's deliberate. No one in their right mind would think that this is acceptable.

This isn't demonizing anyone. This is rightfully pointing out a toxic person, who, all on his own, CHOSE to display his toxicity being held accountable for his actions.

It's not like the standards we hold creators to are really that high. "Don't make live stream videos of rape scenes in an RPG" is a pretty freaking low bar.
 

Imagine, for a moment, that one of the other creators on the project is themselves a survivor of sexual assault - which is not unlikely if anyone on the project is a woman. But, you, the person behind the project, probably don't know it, because folks don't usually talk about such with business associates.

Do you think folks who have themselves been assaulted shouldn't be given a choice to distance themselves from this dude? This isn't a matter of "hearsay" - what he did was broadcast, and can still be found and reviewed.

This would not make the project creator a judge, jury, or executioner - it allows the others working on the project to judge for themselves, and choose whom they associate with.

I was more arguing about the principle of what project creators should do in general, as a rule.

Examples: What if the person wasn't aware of what had happened. Or if there was contradictory evidence. I still feel that project creators should not be expected to call people up and say, x was accused of y. For me the right approach would be to be transparent about who is participating in the project. If someone then doesn't want to collaborate with said collaborator or support work associated with a member of the team, they can opt out and/or voice their objections. For me it's an important distinction, because then the project creator doesn't have to play detective with what happened (although this example might be fairly clear cut, in other cases it may be a lot trickier to establish what happened). And the project creator can then concentrate on the work. I.e. i leave the space (and the responsibility) to other people to make a decision for themselves.

In this instance, that transparency was lacking.
Not only that, but it sounds like steps were taken to actively confuse the issue of who is participating. And there were other issues too it seems (particularly, how the KS tools were used).

So yeah, i'm not going to defend what has happened in this instance. But i do think it's important as a community not to put that kind of burden on project creators: it's not their responsibility to decide whether someone did something reprehensible or not.
 

Hussar

Legend
it's not their responsibility to decide whether someone did something reprehensible or not.
It absolutely is.

If you choose to work with someone, knowing that that someone has a reputation and has been shown, pretty clearly, to be problematic, then it absolutely is your responsibility as a project creator. You're the boss. The buck stops on your desk. YOU (not you, @polyhedral man but the generic you) are responsible for your project. And, it behooves any project creator to do due diligence and take a bit of a look at the background of the people who you are inviting to work on your project.

"Oh, I didn't know" means that the project creator is incompetent. Couldn't be bothered to do a 30 second Google search to check that the people on the project aren't going to be an issue. That Luke Crane deliberately tried to hide the fact that he had brought in Koebel is even worse. He KNEW it was a problem, otherwise he wouldn't have tried to hide it, but, went ahead and did it anyway. Then he got caught.

Hey, ya rolls the dice ya takes the chances. He chose to do this, fully knowing the issues at hand, got caught, and lost his job because of it. Seems pretty straightforward to me.
 

It absolutely is.

If you choose to work with someone, knowing that that someone has a reputation and has been shown, pretty clearly, to be problematic, then it absolutely is your responsibility as a project creator. You're the boss. The buck stops on your desk. YOU (not you, @polyhedral man but the generic you) are responsible for your project. And, it behooves any project creator to do due diligence and take a bit of a look at the background of the people who you are inviting to work on your project.

"Oh, I didn't know" means that the project creator is incompetent. Couldn't be bothered to do a 30 second Google search to check that the people on the project aren't going to be an issue. That Luke Crane deliberately tried to hide the fact that he had brought in Koebel is even worse. He KNEW it was a problem, otherwise he wouldn't have tried to hide it, but, went ahead and did it anyway. Then he got caught.

Hey, ya rolls the dice ya takes the chances. He chose to do this, fully knowing the issues at hand, got caught, and lost his job because of it. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

I made a distinction earlier, and it's an important one. I'm not talking about the specific case. I'm talking about the responsibility of a project creator in general. Finding out whether anyone did or did not do something reprehensible, is not a 30 second google search. More importantly, it shouldn't be. And we shouldn't treat it as such.


Edit: also, if they did do something reprehensible, what's the extent of the measures a project creator should take? Who gets to decide that?
 
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Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
Edit: also, if they did do something reprehensible, what's the extent of the measures a project creator should take? Who gets to decide that?

It's a complex situation, I believe.

In one extreme the project creator is beholden to no one and decides what measures should be taken. But they are to an extent beholden to the wishes of any creators they have involved, and should probably listen to them, lest the smoke of burning bridges becomes overwhelming. Also the project in turn is beholden to the wishes of the backers to a certain extent. They should be happy with the project they are backing.

So basically the project creator is free to do what they want, but if they are planning on involving other people, then those people get a say as well.
 

Hussar

Legend
I made a distinction earlier, and it's an important one. I'm not talking about the specific case. I'm talking about the responsibility of a project creator in general. Finding out whether anyone did or did not do something reprehensible, is not a 30 second google search. More importantly, it shouldn't be. And we shouldn't treat it as such.


Edit: also, if they did do something reprehensible, what's the extent of the measures a project creator should take? Who gets to decide that?
Why not? If someone did something that the community finds reprehensible, it should absolutely be a 30 second Google search to learn that. And, as a project creator, you are responsible for the people you involve in your project.

What measures should a project creator take? Well, vetting your contributors is just basic good business sense. There is no excuse for not doing that. And, frankly, if someone is toxic, and their inclusion will increase the chance of your project failing, then, well, don't include that person in your project. Seems pretty straight forward and simple to me.
 

Why not? If someone did something that the community finds reprehensible, it should absolutely be a 30 second Google search to learn that.
I started writing a reply, but then found this article. It makes a better job than i could do to make the case of why deferring your judgement to what "the community" seems to think at the moment, might not be such a good idea after all.

 

Aldarc

Legend
I started writing a reply, but then found this article. It makes a better job than i could do to make the case of why deferring your judgement to what "the community" seems to think at the moment, might not be such a good idea after all.

Considering how poor of a job that articles does at what you say it does, then that's not saying much in your favor really.
 

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